Something for everyone

JIT gives us runaways, tricky bets, and one sketchy initialism

Published March 31, 2024

Welcome back to my weekly rundown from the world of Jeopardy!

The 2024 Jeopardy! Invitational Tournament (or JIT) is in full swing this week, with 15 past players returning to the Alex Trebek Stage to compete for a spot in the next Jeopardy! Masters.

Each heading contains a link to my daily write-up over at The Jeopardy! Fan

2024 JIT Quarterfinal #4, Monday, Mar. 25

Austin Rogers and Amy Schneider both started strong, but Amy broke the game open in Double Jeopardy. She got in on 60% of her buzzer attempts in the round, found both Daily Doubles, and collected $19,000 more than Austin, locking down the win before Final Jeopardy. Meanwhile, Celeste DiNucci clawed her way back from minus-$4,400 with just 12 clues to go, and avoided the ignominy of sitting out FJ altogether.

The 61st clue, in Notorious Figures: Never even a soldier, this man lied that his nickname came from a shrapnel wound while fighting in the Argonne. None of the players knew that stolen valor was another of Al Capone’s crimes–he was explaining the nickname “Scarface”–but it wouldn’t have mattered anyway, as Amy’s runaway put her through. 

Quarterfinal #5, Tuesday, Mar. 26

Even with his game-low 48% buzzer success rate, David Madden had the best game here, entering Final Jeopardy with his own runaway. Arthur Chu—playing for the first time since the 2014 Tournament of Champions—lost $10,000 on a Video Daily Double, while MacKenzie Jones’s catch-up attempts led her to several incorrect responses.

The week’s second moot Final Jeopardy, in Elements: In his “Natural History,” Pliny described it as “argentum vivum.” Arthur and David both got mercury–argentum for “silver,” and vivum for “quick”–so David put an extra exclamation point on his lock game.

Quarterfinal #6, Wednesday, Mar. 27

Wednesday’s game started as a battle between “Lightning Bolt” Brandon Blackwell and 2015 megachamp Alex Jacob. Brandon got seven correct before the interviews, and Alex picked up nine in the rest of the Jeopardy round. Jennifer Quail got into contention via the second Daily Double, and then Brandon doubled up for $11,400 on the last one. He was still a few thousand shy of a runaway, though, and everyone still had a chance in Final Jeopardy.

“Old Words” was the category: First appearing in an English dictionary in 1623, mesonoxian means pertaining to this word. Meso = “middle” and nox = “night”; and Jennifer—improving to a lifetime 13-for-14 Final Jeopardy get rate–came up with midnight. More surprisingly, Alex and Brandon did not, so Jennifer advanced to the semifinals. 

Quarterfinal #7, Thursday, Mar. 28

The buzzer had a favorite in this game: Monica Thieu got in an incredible 74% of the time, while Sam Kavanaugh was just successful 25% of the time (Chuck Forrest was in the middle at 50%). But Sam found both Daily Doubles in Double Jeopardy, picking up $4,200 that way—just enough to put him in second place for Final Jeopardy. Even in third, Chuck played well enough to hit five figures—nearly four decades after his initial appearance.

Final Jeopardy, in 20th Century Books: TIME mentioned “cruelty & enforced conformity” when summing up this novel with a “stonily silent narrator.” With so many dystopian novels siren-calling them away, no one got One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, whose narrator is the literally-silent Chief Bromden. So it all came down to wagering, and Sam successfully anticipated Chuck’s overbet, making his own wager just high enough to stay ahead of Monica’s score.1 And so Sam advances to next week, where he’ll surely hope to improve on his historically dismal buzzer performance.

Quarterfinal #8, Friday, Mar. 29

The last show of the week saw Dhruv Gaur–famous for “We love you, Alex” at the 2019 Tournament of Champions–hold the lead at the first commercial break. “Queen” Victoria Groce reeled him in with nine correct responses over the balance of the Jeopardy round, then picked up another 14 in Double Jeopardy to rack up $22,800. But Ben Ingram and Dhruv found the Double Jeopardies in that round, with Dhruv doubling up to deny Victoria a runaway.

“U.S.S.R.I.P.” was the intriguing Final Jeopardy category: Of the 15 countries formed by the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, this one is alphabetically last. Ben and Victoria named Uzbekistan (sorry, Dhruv, it’s not Ukraine), and Victoria moved on.

Other notes from the week:

  • The very first Jeopardy! episode aired on NBC on March 30, 1964, 60 years ago. To celebrate the show’s diamond anniversary, it will hold a series of live events throughout the U.S.
  • Next week features Quarterfinal #9 on Monday between Colby Burnett, Sam Buttrey, and Lilly Chin. That will be followed by the three semifinals, and Game 1 of a first-to-two-wins final.
  1. Monica had $15,800, Sam $12,000, and Chuck $11,000. Monica’s “cover” bet of $8,201 dropped her to $7,599. Chuck bet $4,801, meaning he’d pass Monica if she bet $0. Instead, it dropped him to $6,199. Sam bet $4,400, dropping him to $7,600 on the Triple Stumper—$1 ahead of Monica.

Andy Saunders covers Jeopardy! daily as site administrator for The Jeopardy! Fan. He is also a founding archivist of The J! Archive. His weekly recap appears at Questionist every Sunday.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *